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Susīma Jātaka (No.163, 411)

1. Susīma Jātaka (No.163).– Susīma was king of Bārāṇasī, and the Bodhisatta was his chaplain’s son. The chaplain had been master of ceremonies in the king’s elephant festival, and, as a result, had amassed great wealth. He died when his son was sixteen. Soon after, another elephant festival came round, and other brahmins obtained the king’s consent to be in charge of the ceremonies on the plea that the chaplain’s son was too young. When but four days remained before the festival, the Bodhisatta found his mother weeping. She explained that for seven successive generations their family had managed the elephant festival and that she felt the change deeply. The Bodhisatta discovered that a teacher expert in elephant lore lived in Takkasilā, two thousand leagues away. He comforted his mother and proceeded to Takkasilā, reaching it in a single day. There he paid his fee of one thousand pieces to the teacher and explained the urgency of his mission. In one night the teacher taught him the three Vedas and the elephant lore, and the pupil could even excel his teacher in knowledge. The next morning he left early for Bārāṇasī and reached it in one day.

On the day of the festival the Bodhisatta went in all his array before the king, and protested against the alienation of his rights. He challenged anyone to show his superiority over him in elephant lore, and nobody could be found to do so. The king then appointed him to conduct the ceremonies.

The story was related in reference to an attempt on the part of the heretics to prevent the people of Sāvatthi from giving alms to the Buddha. All the people of the city made a collection to hold an almsgiving, but they were divided in their allegiance, some wishing to entertain the Buddha, others favouring heretical teachers. A vote was passed, and the majority were found to be in favour of the Buddha. For a whole week alms were given on a lavish scale, and, at the end of the week, the Buddha pronounced a benediction.

Ānanda is identified with Susīma, Sāriputta with the teacher, Mahāmāyā with the Bodhisatta’s mother, and Suddhodana with his father. J.ii.45‑50.

2. Susīma Jātaka (No.411).– The Bodhisatta was born as son of the chaplain of the king of Bārāṇasī and was called Susīma. The king’s son, born on the same day, was called Brahmadatta. Together they grew up, and then studied under the same teacher in Takkasilā. Later Brahmadatta became king and Susīma his chaplain. One day, when Susīma was taking part in a procession with the king, the queen mother saw him and fell desperately in love with him. The king, discovering this, made Susīma king in his place and the queen mother Susīma’s queen. However, Susīma soon tired of royalty, and after establishing Brahmadatta once more on the throne, returned to the Himavā in spite of his wife’s protests. There he became an ascetic.

The story was told in reference to the Buddha’s Renunciation. Ānanda is identified with Brahmadatta and the queen mother with Rāhulamātā. J.iii.391‑7.

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